According to Le10Sport, Arsenal could be the frontrunners in the race to sign William Saliba this summer. The Saint-Etienne defender is also courted by Manchester United. But, the report claims that the Gunners have stepped up in their pursuit of Saliba and are closing in on the permanent capture of the young defender.
The North London giants have contacted the player’s agent, and the talks are progressing well. And if everything goes according to the plan, the deal could be finalised in the coming weeks. It is believed that Saliba is valued at around €30 million by Saint-Etienne.
William Saliba: players profile
Saliba has impressed the onlookers with his consistent performances with Saint-Etienne in recent months. The 18-year-old has become a vital part of Les Verts‘ defence, ending the 2018/19 campaign with 16 league appearances.
Having already replaced the injury-prone Neven Subotic, Saliba has built a formidable defensive partnership with Loic Perrin and Timothee Kolodziejczak at the heart of Saint-Etienne’s three-man backline. As far as gameplay is concerned, the Frenchman is known for his tall frame and ability to distribute possession. He has attained an impressive pass completion rate of 85% this past season. He does appear a little tentative with the ball, at times. But that will surely improve by gaining more experience at the highest level of football.
However, what makes Saliba such a talented defender is his positional awareness. Indeed, the 18-year-old is an excellent reader of the game and has averaged 1.8 interceptions per game this past season.
Also, he has won 1.8 headed duels per game during the 2018/19 campaign with an impressive success rate of 62%. And this is indicative of the aerial prowess that also makes him an indirect threat from set-pieces.
Where does Saliba fit in at Arsenal?
Arsenal have struggled a lot in the defensive department, especially under Unai Emery. Laurent Koscielny has never been the same defender after injuries marred his progress in the past couple of seasons. As for Shkodran Mustafi, he has been highly criticised for his performances this past season, and it won’t be surprising to see the German leaving the club this summer.
That being said, it’s unlikely Saliba will be given regular opportunities in the Arsenal first-team, especially if Emery opts for a four-man backline next season. But, the Frenchman can offer some much-needed competition for the defensive trifecta of Rob Holding, Koscielny and Sokratis.
Two of those defenders are already nearing the final stage of their respective careers. And Saliba, at the age of 18, could thus be groomed into a first-team regular for the Gunners in the coming years. However, Emery also needs to aware of the fact that Saliba’s €30 million valuation could consume a chunk of his reported transfer kitty of only €46 million.
Stat courtesy: Whoscored
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